IGEM HAS ANNOUNCED a number of strengthened governance arrangements that come into effect from June 2019.
A review of the institution’s governance was proposed last June following discussions with members across a range of IGEM constituencies which suggested there was:
- a desire for decision making practices to be simpler and easier
- a need to create a fitter structure in readiness for future challenges
- a wish to be informed by an understanding of what practice might be in similar organisations
Professional Engineering Institutions must be able to demonstrate that they take good governance seriously and allow governance processes to evolve and improve the way they operate so that their public benefit obligations are realised.
Good governance is not an optional extra for IGEM. Indeed, it is essential to the
organisation’s effectiveness and even possibly to its survival.
The Charities Commission published an updated Charity Governance Code in 2017. IGEM’s Trustees are fully aware of the code, which outlines the key governance principles of leadership, integrity, decision making, risk and control, board effectiveness, diversity, openness and accountability. In the future, sufficient scrutiny of IGEM’s operations by our Trustees will be essential, as will sufficient transparency of the organisation to members.
Council embraced the review, which sought to report clear recommendations for enhancement of IGEM governance structures and processes in line with good practice, as well as garnering support to the recommendations from the general membership. Under the leadership of incoming President Antony Green, a working group was put together to lead the effort with expertise from influential members including Gordon Davies, Martin Alderson, Chris Bielby and Paul Denniff.
From the start, Antony was clear that the review had to deliver outcomes that would provide real benefits. He said: “We identified a number of current problems. Council meetings were not always allowing for full and effective discussion of key matters, such as development of the membership, agendas were too crowded and covered everything from the institution’s business matters to compliance duties to strategy. And we had identified that there was an advantage to having a structure that would help add agility to decision-making and influence of strategic direction, whilst freeing up Council discussions.”
The central outcome, informed by extensive external benchmarking, is to establish an Executive Board.
Its primary roles will be to act as a steering committee to Council to aid its efficiency and streamlining its business; to assist with the development of forward strategy; to have responsibility for monitoring the overall performance of IGEM and to provide a mechanism for HR and reward.
Council has also actioned a number of additional recommendations. These include enhanced definitions for the remits of the Audit and Risk Committee (with greater emphasis on risk oversight) and Finance Committee (to include contract management oversight), as well as abandonment of the Marketing Committee and the Strategic Planning Board.
Tony Green added: “I am really excited to see all this hard work come to fruition. Executed well, Council will not just be able to perform with excellence its primary collective accountability for governance, but will now have a greater focus on delivering what matters for the institution and its members.”
In the new model, Council will be debating developments on which IGEM must have impact, such as decarbonised heat and smart energy futures, and will have a greater focus on member activities at Section and national level. It will also have a stronger focus on initiatives and services that can positively drive individual and Industrial Affiliate memberships. Interestingly, the Executive Board, while taking on its core remit, will seek to have two meetings per annum at a key stakeholder organisation, with the agenda centred on senior level discussions with that stakeholder.
We want IGEM to be ever more influential and engaging at this time of technological change – and that requires us getting ever closer to our stakeholders.